WORDS BY NATALIE YIASSOUMI
Rossi passed away on Friday, aged 84.
Italian footwear maestro Sergio Rossi passed away on Friday in Cesena, Italy, aged 84. He left behind him a glowing heritage as a creative and business man, having built his namesake shoe empire from the ground up over the last five decades; taken part in creating unforgettable moments in fashion history; championed the beauty of Italian craftsmanship; and encouraged women to dream with his designs – usually dripped in crystal fringe or encrusted with gems.
He is succeeded by his son Gianvito, who has been learning the art of shoemaking from his father since his childhood and launched his own shoe label in 2007. In fact, shoemaking has always been a family affair for the Rossis.
Sergio, who was born in 1935 in San Mauro Pascoli, one of Italy’s most famous shoe making regions, began his love affair with shoes during his teenage years when he sold sandals of his own design on the Adriatic coast. He went on to perfect his craft from his father, also a shoemaker, and since 1966, he began designing his own shoe collections and selling them to local boutiques in Bologna.
His namesake brand was born a few year later and took off soon after the famous Italian film director Federico Fellini chose to feature Sergio Rossi shoes on actress Anita Ekberg, in ‘La Dolce Vita,’ one of the biggest Italian film icons from the Sixties.
The celebrity fairy dust never settled since: Beyoncé often wears custom thigh-high Sergio Rossi boots to perform in, while woman-of-the-moment Lizzo recently sported a pair of the brand’s crystal-encrusted sandals on the Brit Awards red carpet.
Rossi always had a flair for fantasy, with crystal fringes, sea shel embellishments or mirrored heels always a part of his playbook.
His most famous designs include the ‘Opanca’ strappy sandal with its trademark rounded sole; the ‘Godiva’ stiletto pumps and the ‘Virginia’ style which features a sharp, square heel.
He also created shoes in collaboration with other leading design names including Gianni Versace, Azzedine Alaia and Dolce & Gabbana.
While Rossi has been retired – following the sale of his label to the European investment group Investiundstrial from Kering – the signature styles he developed hold on to his relevance today as much as they did when he first introduced them.
Roberto Sciutto, who took over the company’s reins as chief executive officer in 2016, has always believed in the ever-lasting influence of Rossi’s work and while working to modernise the brand, he put all the Sergio Rossi icons that date as far back as the Fifties, at the core of the brand.
“Sergio Rossi was a master and it is my great honor to have met him and gotten to present him the archive earlier this year,” said Sciutto, recalling that during his recent visit to the brand’s headquarters, Rossi was surprised to see so many of his old designs featured within the archives, providing a source of inspiration for the current design team’s collections.
His vision and approach will remain our guide in the growth of the brand and the business. He loved women and was also able to capture a woman’s femininity in a unique way, creating the perfect extension of a woman’s leg through his shoes. Our long and glorious history started from his incredible vision and we’ll remember his creativity forever,” added Sciutto.
To honor the designer’s legacy, Sciutto is also hoping to open up the brand archives to the public and create a museum at the designer’s hometown, where all Sergio Rossi shoes continue to be hand-crafted.
He has also been withholding the values of integrity that Rossi instilled in his brand. Amidst the current global crisis, the Sergio Rossi brand was among the first to launch a campaign – dubbed ‘Shoes Make a Difference’ – offering a donation of 100,000 euros, as well as 100 percent of the proceeds from a week’s sales on its website to fight Covid-19.
SHOP SERGIO ROSSI’S CURRENT COLLECTION